TPWD News Release — Dec. 16, 2013
For the third year in a row, dozens of Texas State Parks will participate in America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative taking place in all 50 states. Last year, more than 1,000 hearty souls gave their soles a workout in less than ideal weather during First Day Hike events held in 57 Texas State Parks. Last year, 720 first-day hikes in state parks throughout the nation drew 22,000 park visitors who hiked 43,000 miles.
For the most up-to-date information about the more than 50 scheduled “First Day Hikes” in Texas State Parks, visit: www.tpwd.state.tx.us/calendar/first-day-hikes.
“First Day Hikes has become an established signature park event that helps Texas families create traditions they can follow year after year to get them outdoors in our state parks to share camaraderie and a renewed sense of adventure,” says Karen Blizzard, Texas State Parks’ First Day Hikes coordinator. “We are hoping even more Texas State Parks, many of which offer guided and interpretive walks, will join in the fun this year.”
Mother Neff State Park near Moody recorded 115 first-day hikers to lead the Texas State Park system turnout this past Jan. 1, followed by Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso that hosted 78 visitors to the Chihuahuan Desert high country. Mother Neff will offer a guided hike over four miles of trails, starting at 2 p.m., while West Texas hikers up for more of a challenge can test their endurance in the Peak Fitness Challenge by climbing 1,000 feet in elevation on a 3.5 mile round-trip trek to Munday’s Gap in the Franklin Mountains. Like most First Day events, there is no charge, but park entry fees apply.
Hiking in Texas state parks offer many health benefits that help combat childhood diabetes and adolescent obesity, provide a source of Vitamin D from sunshine and help burn off unwanted pounds. Did you know a 163-pound woman can burn nine calories a minute during a brisk one-hour walk, or about 555 calories, and a 190-pound man roughly 646 calories during a brisk, one-hour hike?
First Day Hikes vary in difficulty and required fitness levels, ranging from short, leisurely nature walks through forested trails, the beach and along boardwalks to special bird watching and interpretive cultural/natural history hikes. Fort Richardson State Park & Historic Site in Jacksboro, for example, is hosting a one-half mile nature hike on the medium difficulty-rated Kicking Bird Trail. Participants are encouraged to bring a camera, binoculars, water and snacks.
Not all First Day Hikes are walking or hiking events. Look for a New Year’s Day “paddle” at Ray Roberts Lake State Park’s Johnson Branch, a “Boat-n-Hike” at Fort Parker State Park, a First Day Black-Eyed Pea Kids Run at Government Canyon State Natural Area and trails runs at Cedar Hill State Park.
To learn about other hiking opportunities available throughout the year in Texas State Parks, visit: www.texasstateparks.org/hiking.
The Maryland Park Service is coordinating the nation’s 2014 events under the auspices of the National Association of State Parks Directors. This year, a NASPD affiliate member, the American Hiking Society, has joined to support the First Day Hikes around the country.